Kirch Claims Conspiracy By Deutsche Bank, Liberty Media

19 January 2004

Deposed media baron Leo Kirch has accused Deutsche Bank and US cable group Liberty Media of conspiring to bring about his downfall.

The 76-year-old businessman -- whose fortune crumbled as media empire Kirch Gruppe collapsed under the weight of its debt -- has filed a lawsuit in New York alleging foul play by the two firms.

Kirch's vendetta against Deutsche Bank is nothing new. He has already taken the company to court in Germany over comments made by its former ceo Rolf Breuer on a television interview in early 2002. As the Kirch group desperately sought investment to avoid a cash crisis, Breuer told Bloomberg TV it was "relatively questionable" whether a white knight would appear.

German courts agreed with Kirch's argument that this statement breached client confidentiality, but a legal battle is ongoing as to whether Breuer should pay compensation [WAMN: 05-Jan-03].

Now the US lawsuit brings Liberty -- investment vehicle of entrepreneur John Malone -- into the picture. Leo Kirch alleges that Deutsche Bank talked with Malone about a coordinated effort to bring down the German company.

He claims that Liberty, at the time trying to enter the German cable market, was keen to undermine the group's dominance to reduce competition. At the time, Kirch's assets included the country's largest commercial TV business and a huge library of film and sports rights.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff